Lucky, a five year old ginger cat, arrived at Lort Smith earlier this year after it was suspected he had been hit by a car. His carers told us he had been missing for days, and when he returned home, they knew something wasn’t right. They brought Lucky in to see Dr Brittany who agreed that Lucky hadn’t been so lucky and needed urgent medical treatment.
Dr Brittany assessed Lucky and determined that his left back leg was broken. Lucky was limping and couldn’t weight bear. X-rays confirmed he had a fracture that would require either a bone fusion or amputation, and after much discussion and consultation, the team decided that an amputation was the best option for him. Additionally, he needed all teeth removed from one side of his face caused by the suspected car hit.
Lucky was surrendered into our care and recovered well from his surgery. Like most animals who have an amputation, he was happily strutting around on three legs within a couple weeks. He settled into his foster home with one of our animal welfare officers, Beck, who cared for him as he recovered.
Beck soon noticed that Lucky’s paws were changing – they looked inflamed and swollen, and he wasn’t able to walk for long, taking just a few steps before he would lay down again. Beck brought Lucky in to see a vet, who diagnosed him with plasma cell pododermatitis – commonly known as ‘pillow foot’. Pillow foot is caused by the immune system being mistakenly triggered, often by a minor infection that the body tries to fight off. In doing so, it overproduces white blood cells, which pool in the foot pads causing pain and inflammation.
Fifty per cent of cats who develop pillow foot are affected by Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which was the case for Lucky, who tested positive before his initial surgery. FIV interferes with the immune system, which makes it more difficult for cats to fight off illness and disease, as it depletes white blood cells.
After a few weeks of steroid and antibiotic treatment, Lucky’s pillow foot had almost entirely disappeared. Beck’s diligence and care meant that his condition could be treated early – something that’s vitally important for cats with FIV. Lucky’s pillow foot may return in future, and he may be more susceptible to disease or infection than other cats, but many cats with FIV live a long and otherwise healthy life.
Beck initially fostered Lucky so that he could have some time away from the hospital and recover at home, but she quickly fell in love with his gentle personality and fondness for belly rubs. Beck’s family felt the same, and they decided together that Lucky would stay on a permanent basis.
Lucky for Lucky, he still has eight lives remaining …